Leopard found mutilated
Tue, Feb 16, 2010
New Straits Times
KUALA LUMPUR: It was a gruesome start to the Chinese New Year for wildlife officers who found the mutilated carcass of a leopard on Sunday. The animal, which had been trapped in a snare, had been skinned and all its limbs had been chopped off.
But the full extent of the horror did not hit them till yesterday when they found more animals -- a clouded leopard and five wild boars -- snared in the same vicinity.
All the animals were either dead or dying.
Pahang Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) officials had rushed to Persimpangan Hutan Persit near a Sungai Yu tributary in Pahang late Sunday evening after a tip-off from an Orang Asli.
State Perhilitan director Khairiah Mohd Shariff believed that the leopard, known locally as harimau kumbang, and other animals had strayed into wire snares meant for tigers.
"When we first got the information, we thought it was a tiger. Thankfully, it wasn't. But it's still a horrible act."
The leopard, which is the second largest cat in Malaysia, was reclassified in 2008 as "Near Endangered" in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.
Khairiah said officers who made the grisly discovery estimated that the animals had been dead for at least three days.
Perhilitan officers cleared a total of 17 snares within the perimeter where the initial carcass was found.
"Wire snares, whether in small or large quantities, are dangerous," she said.
Although no arrests were made, Khairiah suspected locals were acting as middlemen in the wildlife trade.
"We believe the poachers had set the snares to trap tigers," she said.
"But since a leopard was caught, I think they didn't want to waste it. So it was butchered and skinned.
"It's a sad start to the new year."
Learn more about big cats and Big Cat Rescue at http://www.bigcatrescue.org